Thailand has earmarked U-Tapao airport as a 'gem' that will drive other industries in its new economic zone in the Eastern province of Rayong.
Deputy director of U-Tapao Airport Authority Sommuk Keawmaruang says that U-Tapao airport will become an aeropolis as it undergoes an expansion phase with new infrastructure and establishes new aviation-related businesses in the Eastern Economic Corridor.
Keawmaruang shares that a second runway, 3.5km long, will be built by 2021. This is to enable the joint civil-military U-Tapao airport to reach its goal of handling 250,000 yearly flights by the next decade.
He says the current runway handles between 80,000 to 100,000 flights per year which includes both civil and military operations.
In addition, Bangkok is also considering constructing a third terminal at the airport and is looking to the private sector to manage and operate it. U-Tapao's existing two terminals are managed and operated by the Royal Thai Navy.
When combined, all three terminals will be able to up to 60 million passengers per annum, says Keawmaruang.
"U-Tapao airport is a gem, well-placed to take part of Thailand's new economic zone. The expansion of U-Tapao airport can also help with the crowding of Bangkok's other major airports. We are located near Pattaya, which is a popular tourism area which is also going to grow in the years ahead."